CALGARY — A Sunwing Airlines pilot faces charges after police allege he was impaired before takeoff.
Police say the pilot boarded the Boeing 737 in Calgary early Saturday for a flight that was scheduled to make stops in Regina and Winnipeg before continuing on to Cancun, Mexico.
But before it took off, police say the gate crew as well as crewmembers on the aircraft indicated he was behaving strangely.
Police allege the co-pilot found the pilot passed out in the cockpit.
“They found him slumped over in the seat. He was the captain,” Sgt. Paul Stacey told a news conference.
The pilot was escorted from the plane and later charged with having care and control of an aircraft while being impaired, as well as having a blood-alcohol level exceeding .08 while in care and control of an aircraft.
Calgary Police issued a written statement late Saturday night identifying the pilot as Miroslav Gronych, 37, of Slovakia. The release says his next court appearance is scheduled for Jan. 5.
Stacey said police allege the suspect had three times the legal amount of alcohol in his system.
Sunwing spokeswoman Janine Massey praised the rest of the crew for handling what she called a “very unfortunate matter.”
“We can confirm that shortly before 7 a.m. local time, the gate agents, first officer and crew of Sunwing flight 595, departing from Calgary and destined for Cancun, determined that the captain was unfit to fly and reported this accordingly,” Massey stated.
“The captain was immediately escorted off of the aircraft and the incident is now under investigation with local authorities.”
Police said there were 99 passengers on the flight and six crew. Sunwing said the plane took off a short time later with another captain.